by Chris Haire
The S.C. Carolina Statehouse has passed a bill which will increase taxes on a pack of cigarettes by 50 cents, up from 7 cents a pack. Each year $5 million from tax revenues will go toward state smoking prevention and cessation efforts, while one cent from each pack will be used to market and brand South Carolina-grown crops and produce. The reminder of the money will go to help impoverished families get health insurance.
Rep. Anne Peterson Hutto (Charleston Co.) says she supported the bill not simply because it was the "right thing to do" but because her young children urged her to vote for the legislation. "It's an issue they care a lot about," Hutto says.
During the debate, an amendment was introduced that would lower the tax to 30 cents. Hutto says the amendment was introduced to help prevent Palmetto State smokers along the S.C./N.C. border from crossing into the Tar Heel State to buy cigarettes.